Hardly surprising. This country totally depends on imported products to function and survive. Our closest reliable source for most food, non- food, industrial and other requirements, is South Africa
We seem like another province of South Africa and because of the demise of local industry, are keeping South Africans employed, while here we struggle with an unflattering formal employment rate of around 10%. What stops us being such a fully fledged economic, if not geographic province, is the physical border at the Limpopo River, and Zimbabwean tax and customs departments!
Little wonder the same products on sale here are more expensive than in South Africa. They must be imported, transported, cleared through customs with duties and VAT charges paid in cash upfront, then distributed locally, all costing a lot of money! Add high wages, high costs of running dilapidated machinery and distribution fleets, a crumbling road and communication network, the highest regional bank lending rates and virtual non-existence of credit facilities — no wonder we pay more!
This does not mean that we can’t find good value in Zimbabwe. Unlike bygone days when goods and services were automatically thought of as “good value” and we didn’t feel we were possibly being “ripped off” at every turn, we have — sadly — slipped into a “real world” scenario. We have to get out there and look for good value! The consumer must decide what they are willing to pay for products, goods or services. If it doesn’t meet expectation, you can go somewhere else for a better price or better service level. The arrival of heightened local competition is a positive development.
This is especially prevalent in the restaurant sector which has experienced hugely accelerated growth, from take-away, coffee shop and bistro, to gastro-pub and luxury restaurant. We’ve never had it as good, as a dining public, in terms of choice!
Diners who have the opportunity to eat at both South African and Zimbabwean restaurants lately will have noticed that SA prices have crept up substantially after the 2010 World Cup Soccer tournament. Choice in South Africa of eating establishments is often overwhelming, unless you are a focused diner. A large percentage rely on the franchise concept, proven worldwide as the most successful way of running a profitable business, no matter the kind. You know what you want and you get what you paid for. Satisfaction (hopefully) guaranteed!
In terms of eating establishments that means tried, tested and popular menus, and unfortunately for some, an ever present television tuned in to the latest rugby or football match, stifling dinner time conversation or trashing a romantic candle-lit encounter, but a great diversion if that isn’t going so well!
The greatest thing available to consumers here now is choice, especially in the current vibrant restaurant scene. Such a pity what were once excellent, proudly made local Zimbabwean products, goods and services, are not!